Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ann B. Ross: Author, "Miss Julia" Novels

Last year I signed and edited a very interesting book on career exploration for young women. Firestarters is basically a series of informational interviews with 100 women in interesting and diverse jobs (and maybe a subconscious inspiration for my blog). There are a few people profiled in the book whose jobs might be interesting to readers of this blog. Ann B. Ross, a published novelist, is one of them. Here is her story, taken directly from the book.

Job Description

Ann is a writer of fiction. Her most recent novels are the Miss Julia series, of which the first in the series was Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind. At press time, she had written six books in the series and was contracted with her publisher to complete one book each year.

A Day on the Job

  • Writes approximately three to four hours a day—“I have some coffee… and then I go right to the computer.”
  • Communicates with her agent about the business end of selling her books.
  • Returns e-mails from her Web site,
  • Sends newsletters to those on her Miss Julia mailing list.
  • Promotes her book approximately two months out of the year. “My publisher sets up a tour each year, right at the time that a new book comes out.” The tour entails traveling to bookstores for book signings, speaking about her book, reading excerpts from it, and signing autographs. She also makes radio and television appearances.

Job Likes

"I like the idea of writing because it’s a world that I can escape into. It’s a world that I build, and I can put whatever people I want in it and have whatever happen that I want, although a lot of times they [the characters] surprise me!”

“I like to work alone. I do like the quiet, the silence, just the peace of being here and working by myself.” Although the writing routine is introverted, the promotion of her book provides her with a more extroverted outlet, giving her a nice balance between the two.

“It’s been amazing to me that these books have been so effective to so many people.” Ann remembers a story of a fan who told her that her sister had read these books during chemotherapy, and it was the first time her sister had laughed out loud in over a year.

“It’s a real thrill to walk into a bookstore and see a line out on the sidewalk.” Ann finds promoting the book exciting and fun, but the schedule can also be tiring.

Job Challenges

“The business end, and that’s why I am so thankful to have a good agent.” Ann feels fortunate to have an agent who looks out for her best interest and takes care of negotiations with her publisher.

Steps to Current Job

  • South Carolina Baptist Hospital in Columbia, nursing program.
  • Operating room registered nurse for five years.
  • Armstrong College in Savannah, Georgia, general college courses.
  • Blue Ridge Technical College in Hendersonville, North Carolina; took a writing class while raising her family.
  • University of North Carolina at Asheville, Bachelor of Arts in Literature.
  • Wrote two murder mysteries, The Murder Cure and The Murder Stroke.
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Master of Arts in English; wrote The Pilgrimage.
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ph.D. in English; field of study was Medieval English Literature and Language.
  • Professor at University of North Carolina at Asheville in Literature and Humanities.
  • Writer of the Miss Julia novels.


A liberal arts degree is a great background for a writer. Study what interests you. The more experience and knowledge you acquire, the more you have to draw upon for your writing. She feels that “If you really want to write, you maybe don’t need any formal classes in writing. You can learn the skills, but not the talent, of writing from the public library. I really think the books I read from there were more help than any writing class I had.”

Ann suggests that if you don’t know what you want to study in college, you should get a liberal arts degree. “With a good, rounded humanities or liberal arts degree, you can do most anything you want to.” When she was a young woman, the two main career paths she felt were acceptable for a woman were nursing and teaching. “There are so many opportunities now that I did not feel were open to me.” Ann adds, “Don’t get married young.” She explains that it is more difficult to follow your dreams when you are married and have a family at a young age.

Helpful Personality Traits

Disciplined, self-starter, good observer of others, good ear for speech patterns, introspective of self and others and enjoy telling a story.

Hobbies & Interests

Reading, needlepoint, horseback riding, and spending time with family.

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